Harry Campbell Kiely - June 11, 2016

June 11, 2016

The Rev. Harry Campbell Kiely, 80, a retired Elder in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, died June 11, 2016. A memorial service was held July 9, at Riderwood, the retirement home where he lived in Silver Spring. 

He was born Jan. 23, 1936, in Waco, Texas, to the late Edward Douglas and Irby Campbell Kiely. His primary schooling was in Jacksonville in east Texas, where the family became active members of First Methodist Church. He graduated from Lon Morris Jr. College in Jacksonville, the University of Texas in Austin, Union Theological Seminary in New York City and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Kiely began his pastoral ministry in the Texas Conference in 1955, followed by a year in the Montana Conference in 1957. In 1958, he came to the Baltimore-Washington Conference and pastored local churches for 30 years. In 1960, he founded and integrated Church of the Redeemer at Hillcrest Heights during which time, he inspired youth to join him on the 1963 March on Washington. In 1964 he was appointed to Brightwood in Washington, D.C. In 1968, he began a long ministry at Dumbarton UMC where he is credited with growing that church into a center of peace and human rights activism. He remained there until 1984. He returned to pastor St. Paul UMC in Laytonsville, 1986 to 1996, from which he retired. But ministry called him back and in retirement he began serving Marvin Memorial UMC in Silver Spring. He retired in 2004 to Riderwood, where he was active with Montgomery Hospice.

During the turbulent 60s, Kiely’s ministry focused on civil rights. He was part of the Montgomery to Selma march for civil rights for African Americans scheduled for March 9, 1965, while he was serving the racially integrated Brightwood UMC. Some 1,000 marchers were turned back on the Edmund Pettus Bridge that day by orders of Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon B. Johnson. Two weeks later when the march was finally held, Kiely was unable to attend because of church commitments. But he and his wife and friends were part of the 45th celebration of the event in March 2010.

Keily was the co-author, with the late Rev. Ira Zepp of “One Nation, Many Gods: Confronting the Idols of American Empire.” In the Amazon introduction to the book, published in 2011, he said, “Our Christian consciences compel us to speak in the face of national idolatry and the Church's apathy. And so we speak out in faith, by the grace of God, who calls us to confession, repentance and action.” He also wrote a personal account, “Grateful Recovery: Spirituality and the Healing of Addiction” a year earlier. He authored numerous articles in Sojourners, The Progressive Christian, the now-defunct Christian Social Action and other magazines.

He was a skilled craftsman who enjoyed woodworking, making furniture and designing frames for clocks.

Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Arlene Kiely, four sons, Adam of Gaithersburg, Aaron of La Canada, Calif., Matthew and Joel of Washington, D.C.; and three grandchildren.

His remains have been donated to the State Anatomy Board of Maryland for medical research.

Condolences may be sent to Arlene Kiely, 3142 Gracefield Rd., Apt. 214, Silver Spring, MD 20904-5855. 

Memorial gifts may be made to

Arlene Barry Kiely Sep 5, 2018 3:56pm

My husband Harry C Kiely at no time lived in Mississippi. Can this fact be deleted? Otherwise good summary of his life and ministry.

Erik Alsgaard Sep 5, 2018 4:11pm

Arlene: The obituary for your husband has been corrected. Thank you for reaching out to us.